Penelope Cruz went with red lips and lots of diamonds for the January cover of Interview. She posed for an accompanying sexy spread and talked about Nine with her costar in the film, Marion Cotillard. There's all sorts of speculation about Penelope's personal life and possible engagement to Javier Bardem, but the ladies kept things strictly focused on business — Penelope shared about what compelled her to act, her inspirations, and what it was like on the female-centered set of Nine. Here's more:

  • On what inspired her to act: "That question actually brings me to the reason why I decided to become an actress, which is my constant curiosity about the endless mysteries of human behavior. Because we are dealing with the beauty and complexity of human confusion, no? And we are always trying to get answers."
  • On when she knew she wanted to act: "I think since I was around four years old. I remember playing with some friends and being aware that I was acting as I was playing with them — I would think of a character and pretend to be someone else. My parents also took me to ballet school, and there I think I was able to start communicating those feelings or emotions — I danced for so many years. And then, when I was 10 or 11, I became a very big fan of movies."
  • On who she looks up to:: "As an actress, I really love people like Anna Magnani and Debra Winger. I also think there is nobody better than Meryl Streep. I watch her movies over and over again — I saw Silkwood again a couple of weeks ago, and it made me just want to kiss her feet. We only know each other from seeing each other at awards ceremonies or those kinds of events, but whenever I see her, I always go up to her and start kissing her. I don’t even say anything—I just kiss her. She must think I’m some crazy person. And then, from the women in my life, I have to say that I have a very special relationship with my mother. She had me when she was 21, so she was very young. I’ve always been able to talk to her about everything. Since I was a little girl, nothing was taboo in my house. She’s been the person who I’ve looked to for inspiration for many of the characters that Pedro writes because she’s really a force of nature. She’s very strong."

To see what Penelope has to say about her favorite directors and working with Sophia Loren, just


  • On working with great directors: "I feel like I’ve been very lucky with the directors. The characters I’ve been offered, especially lately, have given me the opportunity to play all of these different women. I always wanted that, and it’s something that you cannot do by yourself. If you want to play a diversity of characters, somebody else has to have the imagination to give you a role completely out of the box. We depend on somebody else’s trust, and these directors are giving me their trust, and I am grateful for that. But I don’t know. . . . I still feel like I have so much to learn. I love that feeling, that next time I go to set, I will be terrified again. I don’t want it to be any other way."
  • On working with Sophia Loren in Nine: "We drove her crazy asking questions — at least I drove her crazy asking her every day about [Vittorio] De Sica and Fellini and [Marcello] Mastroianni and all of the amazing people who she’s had the opportunity to work with. She is so incredible, this woman . . . She looks like a goddess. But she was always worried to see if we were eating enough. I was eating like a pig during that movie because I wanted to gain a few kilos. I was eating nonstop. But it was never enough for Sophia. She would say, “You’re not eating enough, and then you’re doing all this exercise! And I just saw Marion, and she left the table. That one eats less than you do — nothing!'"
  • On who she'd pick if she could invite any four people to dinner: "I would take Federico Fellini, Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, and Pedro Almodóvar, and I would make broken eggs, which is a Spanish dish. It’s all fried, and it’s very fattening, with a lot of oil, salt, eggs, and potatoes. I know how to make it, and it’s so greasy, but there is a truth to it. Can you imagine this group?"